Monday was Indigenous Peoples’ Day — a day that has aimed to rewrite the oppressive history of Columbus Day since 1934 — and to celebrate, Baylor did nothing.
As of an Oct. 8 Presidential Proclamation, Indigenous Peoples’ Day has become a recognized day in the White House celebrating America’s “diverse history and the Indigenous peoples” who helped make the United States of America what it is today. If President Joe Biden can recognize the contribution the Indigenous peoples made to our society, Baylor’s Diversity & Inclusion Office can too.
The Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion on Baylor’s website says the goal is to “embody Christ’s teachings of love and inclusivity across boundaries.” How does a university claim that it emphasizes such inclusivity when there has been no movement to create a student association for those with ties to Native Americans?
The Commitment also states that “at Baylor, ‘Love thy Neighbor’ are not just words … they are a way of life.” Is that a way of life that includes everyone, or only a majority of the students? We celebrate Hispanic heritage and Asian and Pacific American heritage, so why not celebrate another culture that’s foundational to our university’s history? Waco was literally named after the Hueco Indians who lived on these lands before settlers founded the town of Waco.
One simple way to recognize the importance of the rich culture of the grounds we walk through every day is to create a land acknowledgement. Baylor is one of only two schools in the current Big 12 without a land acknowledgement recognizing and respecting Native peoples as traditional stewards of the land.
As an institution of education, our university’s administration should feel obligated to further the knowledge of Baylor students with a land acknowledgement, lectures or events celebrating the heritage we are physically founded on. At the very least, the university could include it on our academic calendar like they did for Labor Day.
The multicultural affairs office was a great idea to create, but unless it continues to strive to include all cultures, it is not doing its duty to our student body. Baylor, November is Native American Heritage Month; right this wrong.